After a productive day yesterday we were eager to keep up the momentum and continue to make good progress with the production side of the show to ensure we would have everything ready before half term. We were informed today that we would be the first group to perform our TIE show at a primary school and that it would be on the first day back after half term! I think this worried us a fair amount however we managed to not let this stress us out and impact us negatively and instead used it as motivation to keep working hard. Unfortunately Leah and Daytona were not here in the morning for reasons we were not made aware of, which added an extra pressure as we didn’t know what we could progress with without them or whether they would be there for our run with Erica later in the day. However, we tried not to let this get to us, and instead we got started on sorting out the set and planning what we were going to do with the flats. We had spoken about using the flats used for last years TIE performance of Jago’s Box, however we recently found out they had been repainted for another performance and were worried about how they now looked and whether they would be suitable and if not if the job of adjusting them to fit in with out production would be doable. Josh, Harry and I went to Tweed House where the set is stored to investigate what was on offer and what might suit our needs best: We knew we needed a set that was easily transportable, light, and adaptable for various spaces (as we were not certain of the spaces we would be performing in at the different schools), as well as needing a window for the ESC and Sk to enter through. Luckily when the flats we wanted to use were painted black and were much smaller than I had anticipated which was really good as I was initially a little worried about them being too large and over the top for a Theatre In Education show and would be too difficult to transport to the different venues and then construct and deconstruct the set once we got there, in such a limited time. Moreover, we had to be aware of the difference in performance space size in the different schools, as we couldn’t guarantee that the each venue would have a large space where our set would fit. However, when I realised how light they were and how small they actually were I was extremely relieved as it meant we had a versatile and adaptable set sorted – which is one less thing to worry about!
Once we had finished I started to make the wanted posters which would feature on the set. I drafted these several times until I achieved a result I was happy with and thought would work for the TIE performance – as I wanted them to stand out and be easily readable from the audience or at least recognisable as wanted posters. I thought it would be good to incorporate the shape design as the background of the poster, however I soon realised that this made it difficult to read the font and distracted from the title and the photo of ESC and Morgan. So, I reworked the format and managed to move things around so the design still featured underneath the photo, but left the areas where there was text blank so it was still easily readable. Unfortunately, we noticed there was a typo on the printed copies which put me into a panic as we had spent so long on the poster and had encountered several complications when trying to print it off in the first place; however, luckily I was able to alter this with Tip-ex and a black marker pen and it was resolved!
This is the finished design:
Following this myself and Harry worked on the radio broadcasts as we still needed to produce these. Originally Leah was supposed to be recording the voice of these, however the fact she hadn’t been in and was missing rehearsal time worried us as we were running out of time to record these and rehearse with them was a problem. On top of this, we were all slightly cautious of how well the children would be able to hear and understand what Leah was saying if she was the one to recite the broadcast, as her voice is naturally very poor in diction and she speaks to fast that it is often very difficult to know what she is saying, as the words slur into one. Collectively we worried that if the children don’t understand the content of the broadcast then they would be lost and confused with what was happening in the rest of the show (as the broadcast is the first thing the children will hear and actually sets up the narrative and purpose of the show!). Therefore we made the decision that I would record the voice over for the broadcast as a safety measure and to use in rehearsals for the time being, however if Leah came back within the next dew days we would leave the option open for her potentially rerecord this (as long as she took on the constructive feedback we have been giving her about slowing down her delivery and pronouncing each word properly and clearly). Harry and I worked extremely hardly to create the whole radio sequence, which involved sourcing sound effects such as: A news broadcast alert, a radio being tuned, and the song that Isabella and Sherlock dance to before Granny enters. Although this sounds straight forward, it actually took such a long time as it involved editing tracks and multi-tracking these on top of each other so that it flows as one sequence. When recording the actual broadcast with the news presenter saying what had happened in shape town, I adopted a lower tone and tried recreating a stereotypical presenter voice, so that I sounded different to my character Isabella; which I did this by elongating my vowels and putting a slight twang in my voice. I usually work by visualising an image of the character I am imitating in my head when doing different voices or accents as it helps me detach from myself and become the character. So, when doing the news presenters voice I imagined a male character in a studio sitting over a microphone (much like the portrayals we see on television or in films) and actually visualised the typical ‘broadcast’ logo flashing before my eyes. I am unsure why I work in this way, however I feel it helps me especially when doing voice work and when the character or situation is so very different to myself in real life and so helps me recreate the image in my head and bring it to life.
I then had to do the same with the second radio broadcast, which was simpler as it didn’t require as much editing or extra sound effects or tracks added (the only addition was the doorbell at the end which interrupt the news report) – so we were able to complete this a lot more quickly. I made sure that I spoke extremely slowly and spread out my words with longer pauses than I would when speaking in normal life, as I know how important it is that the children have time to absorb and acknowledge what I am saying, so that they can follow the story without confusion. The response we got from Josh when we showed him was really positive and he encouraged us to use this as the actual recording that features in the show as for the first time he understood what was being said!
In the Afternoon we had scheduled a rehearsal with Erica where we had hoped to run the piece in full and work on any problem areas that were highlighted. Thankfully Daytona had made it into college by this time, meaning we were only missing Leah, who Erica was able to step in for so we could still do a full run of the show. We wanted to do the run with all the props and set that we had so far (including stand in/temporary props in the place of ones that hadn’t been fully made yet). We set up in the dance studio and as it was the first time we had seen the whole set in a performance space and used it in a full run, we were all pleasantly surprised and reassured at how professional and good it looked! I think it helped us realise how close the performance actually was, and pumped us with energy and enthusiasm for the run as seeing it all come together was a huge motivation and exciting thing!
Luckily the run ran very smoothly, and although we were still mainly holding scripts in hand, we knew a lot more than expected and were able to interact with each other as our characters more than in other rehearsals. Running with the props and set was really helpful as it highlighted scenes where we needed to sort out the logistics behind using the props without breaking up the momentum of the scene. For example in the opening scene with Sherlock and Isabella we use the radio, and there are various moments where we need to interject the radio recording at just the right time with our dialogue as it refers to what is playing. In the past we had taken this for granted and took as much time as we needed to say our lines, we now had the pressure of working with a pre-recorded track which changes between the broadcast/tuning/music on its own, and therefore no longer had this luxury. This caused minor problems as we also had to reposition ourselves to be closer to the radio so we could pretend to change the channel at the right time to give the impression that it actually works. However, this caught us by surprise when running it in this rehearsal, as we were still sitting on the sofa and couldn’t get to it in time before the track changed, which made it look like magic and ruined the illusion! Although this isn’t a massive problem this is something we need to work on in future rehearsals so we can avoid this happening in the actual show.
Having the flats helped a considerable amount and allowed us to plan our exits and entrances better as we had more of an idea of how long it would take to get on and off and plan the transitions between the characters exiting the stage and the new character entering. One example of an entrance/exit that we had to rework was when Sherlock and Isabella are about to spot the ESC’s castle in the distance. Throughout the rehearsal process we had lost track of our original staging idea as we had gotten so used to waiting at the side of the room and then entering the stage when we started a new scene. However, we originally wanted to stage this in a more creative and interactive way, by exiting the stage at the end of the scene before and travelling round the outside of the performance space during the next scene and the stopping at the back of the space, before coming down the centre isle and entering the stage from there. Despite our visions of this working well, we never actually put this into practice in recent rehearsals and so when we tried doing this in today’s run we were unaware of how distracting this was to audience members to have Sherlock and Isabella walking round the back of the room when ESC and Morgan were trying to do a scene. Therefore we had to find a way of resolving this problem but still keep as much artistic creativity as possible. Erica helped us come up with ideas of keeping the original idea we had but avoiding the probability of distracting the children from the action on stage.
We reworked on the final scene as a group (under the direction of Erica) as she had noticed that there were moments where we upstaged each other and the blocking generally wasn’t working. There were often moments when we were in pairs on either side of the stage and while this seemed to work most of the time, we had to be more aware of which pair was meant to be the focus as at times we were not aware of what we were doing and our interactions with the other characters were distracting from the action. Josh and Daytona have to do their miming of zapping the shapes slightly smaller and less animated on the parts where Harry and I are presenting the scripted dialogue as it is important the children absorb that information and are not distracted by what Daytona and Josh are doing at that moment. Another moment that we needed to look at the blocking for was where Harry and I go to when we first enter and discover the new shapes as in the first run we all ended up in a clump and it was quite messy on stage. However, now we have positioned where we end up to avoid this happening again: we both enter stage right and then cross across the front and go to the other side of the stage once we have ‘found’ the shape we are referring to. I then cross back over to stage right to speak to ESC when trying to convince him to stop being mean. This was the stage stays balanced with an even spread across the stage. Another area Erica picked up on when watching our run was that we rarely use the whole depth of the stage , as we tend to play most of it along the front of the stage. Therefore we altered the staging slightly and instead of ESC pushing us aside and returning to stage left, he will move to upstage centre (near the bench). When we practised this it worked so much better and allowed more variety and interest on stage, as well as freeing up more space which allowed us to be more physical when Morgan is instructed to remove us. One problem we did encounter and had to work on was finding a way in which Josh could move to his new position, as Erica noticed that the movement he was currently doing had a lot of resemblance to a Hitler salute which obviously was risky and not suitable! I think naturally josh wanted to appear powerful and so used strong arm movements, however up till this point he hadn’t realised that this could easily be misinterpreted. We decided that this could be avoided by using more flowing movements and positioning them outwards and down rather than up – just to be safe! Having an extra pair of eyes observing the run was really beneficial as it helped us discover fine details that didn’t quite work or make sense and sort these out in time for the performance.